By Chris Adams

Dr. Stephen Baylin is in the business of tricking cancer cells into seeing something that’s not there.

His work involves something called “epigenetic therapy,” and it was cited as one of the notable advances of 2015 by Nature Medicine, a prestigious biomedical journal. Baylin is a professor of oncology and medicine at the John Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center.

At its core, epigenetic therapy is designed to disarm the ability of cancer cells to avoid detection by the immune system. Once that happens, other treatment – such as immune checkpoint therapy, or immunotherapy – could be more effective.

The science involved is complicated, and right now the treatment possibilities are well in the future. So far, the clinical results on the therapy are promising, but early.

In a session with National Press Foundation fellows, Baylin explained the science of epigenetic therapy and of the related immune check-point therapy. He then explained how the combination of the two could treat melanoma and other cancers. A further explanation of his breakthrough work is here.